Former visitor center to become Shoreline Mission Bay restaurant and events center
by DAVE SCHWAB
Published - 05/04/17 - 07:25 PM | 8909 views | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
An artist’s rendering of the former visitor information center, which is being redeveloped into Shoreline Mission Bay restaurant.
An artist’s rendering of the former visitor information center, which is being redeveloped into Shoreline Mission Bay restaurant.
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The long-dormant Mission Bay Visitor Information Center is getting re-purposed as a waterfront restaurant/event center while preserving the existing building's marine theme.

The $3 million redevelopment project, known as Shoreline Mission Bay is being undertaken by Playground Concepts, a San Diego-based hospitality group, at the old visitor center site at 2688 E. Mission Bay Drive off Interstate-5.

Recently, San Diego City Council green-lit a 25-year lease agreement with Playground to redevelop the 2.6-acre city-owned site. 

Playground intends to convert the 4,600-square-foot building as a casual, counter-service eatery, while adding outdoor seating, a children’s play area, public information services and beach and bike rentals.

“Our team is excited for the opportunity to reinvigorate this iconic San Diego building with new life,” said Kristine Schnell, creative director of Playground Concepts, a boutique design and development firm focused on restaurant and hospitality projects.

“It's a space that holds fond memories for many San Diegans, and we are looking forward to creating memories here for the next generation,” Schnell said.

Built in 1969 by local architect Richard Lareau, the building originally catered to visitors purchasing tickets, picking up maps of area attractions, making hotel reservations or renting bikes. The information center closed in 2010, a victim of visitors going to the Internet instead of brick-and-mortar sites for travel information.

The building, shaped like a seashell, is a unique example of California organic modernism architecture by Lareau. Now retired, Lareau is consulting on the project to ensure renovations conform to his original design and intent for the building.

Playground, led by local husband-and-wife team Bradley and Kristine Schnell and Greg Van de Velde, a current partner in Bottega Americano and former general manager of Bottega Americano and Mister A’s, will manage all aspects of restaurant operations at the revitalized information center. 

The project, expected to break ground later this year, will feature a counter-service restaurant with local wine and beer on tap and grab-and-go picnic arrangements, as well as a walk-up coffee and juice bar for early morning joggers and cyclists. Also planned is a space for private events and bayfront weddings and beach and bike rentals, as well as a small retail component and children’s play area. 

“The redevelopment of the vacant San Diego Visitor Information Center at Mission Bay will make this landmark once again into a destination point that will be enjoyed by visitors and locals alike,” said Cybele Thompson, the city's Real Estate Assets Department director. “Future generations will be able to indulge in waterfront dining next to Mission Bay, rent and purchase beach supplies and bicycles, and visit the new Mission Bay Park public information center.”

The site was put out to request for proposals by the City of San Diego Real Estate Assets Department on Oct. 26, 2015. In February 2016, playground concepts was formally selected out of several dozen proposals from reputable real estate development firms by the city of San Diego, the San Diego Planning Commission and numerous community support groups to redevelop this highly visible property.

“We enjoyed working with the city of San Diego Real Estate Assets and Park and Recreation departments through the RFP process and look forward to seeing this iconic city asset undergo this progressive transformation to become once again a fun, entertaining public amenity for the entire community,” said Matt Davis of global real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield’s San Diego-based team, The Land Group representing Playground Concepts.

For more information, visit www.shorelinemissionbay.com

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